Out to the new ball game

It’s Opening Night for the Boise Hawks—Opening Night for the Colorado Rockies era as well. It’s Opening Night for the Boise Hawks—Opening Night for the Colorado Rockies era as well. Here’s your “affiliation summation” as we head into the new association with Denver’s big league club. Hard to believe the Hawks have been around for 28 years now. The first three seasons after their birth in 1987 they were an independent club in the Northwest League, a tough row to hoe as they went 91-137. The Angels era was by far the peak of the team’s history—all 11 seasons from 1990-2000 were under manager Tom Kotchman, and all 11 were winning seasons as Boise won 501 games and four Northwest League championships. At 551-512, the Hawks were just over .500 in their 14 years of Cubs affiliation. Overall, Boise Hawks baseball has been a winner, with 1,143 all-time victories against 983 losses.

Mason Smith takes a big step tonight. He joins the Tri-City Dust Devils, who are the guests at Memorial Stadium. It’s a proving ground for the Rocky Mountain High grad, who has batted only .204 over the past two seasons for San Diego’s Arizona Rookie League team. The Padres felt strongly enough about Smith coming out of Rocky two years ago to select him in the fourth round of the MLB Draft, the 118th overall pick. Smith was ranked as the 71st-best player in the 2013 draft by ESPN draft analyst Keith Law. Baseball America had him ranked No. 101 overall.

If only Opening Night could be like last year for the Hawks. Kyle Schwarber, who eight days earlier was the fourth overall pick in the major league draft by the Cubs, made his professional debut in a Boise uniform. Schwarber blasted a three-run homer in the seventh inning to give the Hawks a 4-2 Opening Night win over Tri-City. For the night he went 3-for-4, picking up where he left off as a star catcher for the Indiana Hoosiers. Schwarber lasted five highly-productive games before he was promoted.

Now Schwarber is a big leaguer, if only temporarily. He won’t so much remember his debut Tuesday night, when he struck out looking in a ninth-inning at-bat. But he’ll certainly remember his second game. Last night Schwarber not only collected his first major league hit, he went 4-for-5 and knocked in his first two runs, one of them on a triple. He scored three runs as well to help the Cubs clobber Cleveland, 17-0. Schwarber also got to watch the guy who was making an impact in Boise just two years ago, No. 2 overall pick Kris Bryant, smash his first major league grand slam. It was the eighth homer of the season for Bryant, who now has 39 RBI and is batting .295.

Nick Duncan is back with the Boomers. The Boise State junior has been named to the Australian team that will compete at the World University Games next month after making it through the selection camp. The “Emerging Boomers,” as they are called Down Under, will travel to China for a series of tune-up tournaments next week. The World University Games are set for July 3-14 in South Korea. Duncan has been a Boomer before. The 6-8 forward was Australia’s leading rebounder at the 2011 U17 World Championships, on the way to a silver medal. Then in the U19 World Championships in 2013, Duncan led the entire tournament in three-point shooting at 55 percent, helping the Aussies to a fourth-place finish.

The much-anticipated vote on an early-signing period in college football recruiting will have to wait another year. The issue was tabled yesterday after the debate over the early-signing proposal morphed into a discussion on satellite camps, oversigning and grayshirting. The 10 FBS commissioners at the Collegiate Commissioners Association meetings in Asheville, NC, felt the early-signing concept is tied into all the other concerns in modern recruiting and needed to take a breath. Side note: Washington coach Chris Petersen was an early champion of an early-signing day when he was Boise State’s head man. We presume he still feels that way.

Boise State might be producing some competition for sports bars on Broadway during game days. The university is asking the State Board of Education today to approve alcohol sales in the Caven-Williams Sports Complex, the indoor facility, for the three hours before kickoff. Only ticketed fans would be able to get in. Bit, by bit, the right to enjoy adult beverages is spreading at Albertsons Stadium (it already exists in the Steuckle Sky Center). Come to think of it, this Caven-Williams idea could work for basketball games in Taco Bell Arena as well. Let’s just hope alcohol doesn’t dominate the Broncos’ game day atmosphere like it has been known to at Mackay Stadium in Reno.

When Albertsons put up the money for naming rights to Bronco Stadium a little over a year ago, everybody knew what the company was paying. Sure, there was a little dust-up about how much would go to Boise State and how much to Learfield Sports, but that was cleared up a month later (about $9.1 million to BSU, $3.4 million to Learfield). In Logan, meanwhile, it’s been over two months since Utah State changed the name of Romney Stadium to Maverik Stadium, and people know nada about the convenience store chain’s financial deal. “What are they hiding,” asks Doug Robinson of the Deseret News. Does it require USU to buy all its gas at Maverik? Are they trading out for corn dogs?

What really rankles Robinson is that Utah State has shelved the memory of stadium namesake Dick Romney, the Aggie athletic legend—as a four-sport letterman, football coach for 29 seasons, basketball coach for 22 seasons, track coach for 24 seasons, and athletic director. He was also commissioner of the old Skyline Conference for 10 years. The Logan Herald Journal has won an appeal with the State Records Committee, which agreed that the Maverik contract is a matter of public record. USU has 30 days (from last Thursday) to appeal.

This Day In Sports…June 18, 2000, 15 years ago today:

Tiger Woods turns the 100th U.S. Open into a one-man show, winning by 15 strokes over Ernie Els and Miguel Angel Jimenez. Woods’ 15-shot margin shattered the Open mark of 11 set by Willie Smith in 1899 and is the largest in any major championship—surpassing the 13-stroke victory by Old Tom Morris in the 1862 British Open.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)